Summer events in the Peak District – mini guide
- Credit: Archant
The Peak District is renowned for its vibrant calendar of cultural, artistic and countryside events. Here are some important dates for your diary...
Summer of Cycling
(April to October)
Explore the Peak District on two wheels by following one of the festival’s cycle routes or attend one of the specially selected courses, workshops or film screenings. The UK’s first Italian-inspired cycling festival, L’Eroica Britannia (20th-22nd June), will herald a three-day celebration of vintage cycling, fashion and local food in Bakewell. This will pave the way for when the world’s most famous cycling race, the Tour de France, slices through the northern tip of the Peak District on 6th July. For details visit www.peakdistrict.gov.uk
Peak District Walking Festival
(26th April-11th May)
Over 100 events and walks highlighting the area’s beautiful landscapes, towns and villages. Select a route to suit you – from a leisurely stroll to a challenging uphill hike – join a group walk or indulge your interest in subjects varying from heritage to wildlife at a themed event. For details visit www.visitpeakdistrict.com
Well dressing is one of Derbyshire’s oldest and most mysterious customs. The Romans who invaded Britain in 43AD certainly made regular sacrificial offerings at wells and springs but it’s more likely that the custom predates this. Ancient Britons made offerings to their water gods and some anthropologists believe that Celtic strains survived the successive invasions in the remote Peak hills. Well-dressing today has strong religious links and a service of ‘blessing the wells’ is usually held. How is it done? Few are assembled in the same way, but put simply, after prolonged soaking wooden frames are filled with damp clay and natural materials, such as flower petals, leaves and corn, are pressed into the design etched into the clay. The startlingly brilliant results are usually on show for about a week.
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Here are just a few highlights:
Wirksworth 24th-28th May, blessing 24th
Tissington 29th May-7th June, blessing on 29th at 11am
Ashford-in-the-Water 14th-22nd June, blessing on 15th at 3pm
Litton 21st-28th June, blessing 22nd, 3pm
Tideswell 21st-29th June, blessing on 21st
Youlgrave 21st-26th June, blessing on 21st at 2.30pm
Chapel-en-le-Frith 5th-12th July, blessing on 6th at 12pm
County Shows in the Peak District
Celebrating all that the countryside has to offer with competitive classes for horses, livestock and horticulture, thrilling main ring attractions and a colourful mix of county products.
Bakewell Show (6th-7th August)
The Showground, Bakewell DE45 1AQ
Manifold Show (9th August)
The Arbour, Castern Hall, Ilam DE6 2BA
Ashover Show (13th August)
The Rectory Fields, Ashover S45 0BA
Ashbourne Show (16th August)
Osmaston Polo Ground, nr Ashbourne DE6 1LU
Hope Show (25th August)
The Showground, Marsh Farm, Castleton S33 8RZ
Chatsworth Country Fair (29th-31st August)
Chatsworth, Bakewell DE45 1PP
Turnditch & Windley Show (6th September)
Wirksworth Road (B5023), Windley
Hartington Wakes (14th September)
High Fields, Hall Bank, Hartington SK17 0AT
Ashbourne Festival (20 June-6 July)
An annual feast of music, literature and drama that takes place throughout this historic market town. Expect street theatre, concerts, exhibitions, talks and workshops from regional and international artists and performers. The festival Fringe (24th June-2nd July) offers a varied programme that includes recitals and guided walks.
Leek Arts Festival (1st-31st May)
Music, exhibitions, arts, film and theatre held in venues throughout the town, including historic churches and pubs, and outdoors in Leek’s Brough Park.
Chatsworth International Horse Trials (16th-18th May)
Three days of world-class equestrian sport, combined with entertainment and activities for the whole family in the beautiful surroundings of Chatsworth Park. Chatsworth, Bakewell DE45 1PP
Leaden Boot Challenge (18th May)
A challenging 26.2 mile walk or run with 5,800 feet of ascent, starting and finishing in the White Peak village of Alstonefield.
Castleton Garland Ceremony (29th May)
There are various theories about when this unique folk custom originated – the most common being that it celebrates the restoration of King Charles II. Others believe that it is a fertility rite dating back to pagan times. The ceremony is held each year on Oak Apple Day (29th May) unless this falls on a Sunday, in which case it takes place on 28th. The ‘King’, on horseback and dressed in Stuart costume, is covered to the waist in a heavy, bell-shaped floral Garland that measures over three feet tall and weighs around 25kg. A ‘posy’ of more flowers, called the ‘Queen’, is placed on top. Following a procession through the town accompanied by his ‘Consort’, a band and dancers, the ‘King’ is relieved of his Garland which is then lifted to the top of the tower of St Edmund’s Church. The ‘Queen’ is placed round the war memorial, and there is Morris and maypole dancing in the Market Place. Castleton, Hope Valley S33 8WN
Derbyshire Open Arts (24th-26th May)
Over 100 artists and craftspeople display their work in venues across the county, offering the opportunity to view and purchase unique pieces and meet the artists themselves. Visit www.derbyshireopenarts.co.uk
World Toe Wrestling Championships (8th June)
This unusual event sees participants from across the world take off their socks and lock big toes in a bid to force their opponent’s digit to the floor. Held at the Bentley Brook Inn, Fenny Bentley, Ashbourne (DE6 1LF)
Ashbourne Highland Gathering (20th June)
The largest Highland Gathering outside of Scotland. The event includes pipe band competitions, highland dancing, highland sports and a traditional hill race. Ashbourne Recreation Ground DE6 1GH
Buxton Festival (11th-27th July)
The nationally renowned celebration of opera, music and literature, with performances from world-class opera companies and a celebrated programme of music recitals and literary talks. The Festival Fringe (9th-27th) features comedy, theatre, dance, music, street performances, film, talks and shows.
World Hen Racing Championships (2nd August)
Chickens are raced over a track of around 15 metres and have three minutes to cross the finish line. Entry is free and you can even hire a hen for the day! Held at the Barley Mow Inn, Bonsall DE4 2AY
Eyam Remembrance Service (31st August)
Over 350 years after the residents of Eyam selflessly cordoned off the village to prevent the spread of the plague, a service is still held on Plague Sunday (the last Sunday in August) at Cucklett Delph, Eyam
Wirksworth Festival (5th-21st September)
A leading rural arts festival showcasing work from both local and international artists. The Art and Architecture Trail wends its way through the streets and alleyways of the town, whilst the Contemporary Visual Arts programme includes commissions and films installed in unusual sites. Music, dance, drama, film, street theatre and Fringe events complete the offering.
New Mills Festival (12th-28th September)
An annual celebration of community and cultural spirit with talks, walks, concerts, exhibitions and an impressive lantern procession.